Monday, July 20th (2009):
My first visit to Verona was part of my first visit to Italy back in 1999. My stay in Verona was short – an overnight stay, arriving in the afternoon/leaving the following morning. I was awestruck when I saw the Arena di Verona, the Roman Ampitheatre, which is located in Piazza Bra. It is the 3rd largest amphitheatre in Italy and was built in the first half of the 1st century A.D.
In 2000, I returned to Verona for two nights and I purchased opera tickets in advance for both nights. The opera scheduled for the first night was Aida. It ended up being rained out. The second night was Nabucco with perfect weather for an evening opera . We sat in the expensive seats. It was my very first opera and it was magical!
In 2001, while taking Italian lessons in Siena, my school took us to Verona one night to see Aida. This time we sat up high on the pink marble steps. Another amazing night!
I have not been back to Verona since. I have thought about returning each time I planned a trip, but just never worked it into my itinerary.
This year, Katia & I decided to take the train to Verona for the day. It’s about an hour ride. We sat in 1st class and the train was packed.
Once we arrived at the train station in Verona, we bought roundtrip bus tickets at the tabbacheria, boarded the bus and headed to Piazza Bra. I love this piazza. The buildings are so pretty and of course this is where the Arena is located.
We stopped for a caffe and a brioche and then set out for the day. We ran right into two girls selling Verona Cards – 10 euros admission to everything in Verona for the day. Perfect! We were sold!
I’m not sure if these sphinx hang out in the piazza by the Arena all summer or were just there for the Aida opera.
We went inside the Arena for a visit.
Katia is uneasy with heights so she stayed down below sitting on one of the lower steps. I walked up to the top and took a couple of photos of the view.
Next, we walked over to Piazza Erbe. The Torre dei Lamberti was calling my name. I have never climbed this tower before. It must have not been open the last time I stayed in Verona. Again, Katia stayed below doing some window shopping, while I climbed the 368 steps to the top of the tower. This is fun tower to climb. It has a beautiful curved stairway. I took some photos and then headed back down to meet Katia.
We had lunch at pizzeria impero and then our next stop was to visit the famous bridge, the Ponte di Castel Vecchio (also known as the Ponte Scaligero).
Since we had the Verona Card, we decided to walk through the Castelvecchio Museum (Museo Civico di Castelvecchio) first to get to the bridge.
Castelvecchio means old castle and this museum is in an old castle with moats and all. It’s a beautiful museum with lots to see we zipped through it due to lack of time.
Walked around top to the clock tower and then left museum and walked over to the Ponte di Castel Vecchio (bridge).
There was one more place I wanted to revisit – the Museo Archeologico al Teatro Romano. It was a long walk to the other side of Verona to reach this Roman Theatre and Archeological Museum but well worth it. I have wonderful memories of my visit here in 2000 and have always wanted to return.
Before heading back to the train station, we did the mandatory quick stop at Casa di Giulietta.
The streets were starting to get very crowded. Perhaps it was the opera crowd arriving? I took a few more photos of the arena. Katia took this one of me.
Then, we hopped on the next bus heading back to the train station. It was a packed bus. We had to stand and we held on for our lives as the bus turned corners. Back at the train station, we heard the announcement – “in ritardo” (which means the train is arriving late) over and over again – first 5 minutes, then 10, then 15, then 17, and then 19. Finally there was this announcement – “Ci scusiamo per il disagio.” (We apologize for the inconvenience) as the train arrived 26 minutes late.
I don’t have anymore notes for this day. I assume we enjoyed a wonderful dinner once back in Coccaglio. I know I spent part of the evening packing as the following afternoon was when I would be leaving Coccaglio and heading to the airport hotel in Malpensa.
I am very grateful to Katia for our wonderful day in Verona!
Next up – Tuesday in Coccaglio